Recently in the evening, I was driving (by myself) over to my mom's house to dog sit while she went on a short trip.
As I was nearing her house there was a group of men walking down the middle of the road. I quickly started weighing my options (thinking critically). I could drive up to them and wait for them to let me pass and then they would see a single lady pull up to a dark house alone, I could go home, or I could turn onto the block before I reached them and circle back giving them more time to get further up the road without seeing me get out of my car. Of the three scenarios, the last one is what I chose and it worked out well. The first option would have put me in a vulnerable position. The second would keep me safe but I would be considered irresponsible. And the third option got me to the house safely and the dogs fed.
Being able to see a scenario, word problem, story, essay, event, etc. all the way through and make an educated judgement call is essential in school and in life. It is also important to have fluid judgements (making alterations as more information is revealed) so that the outcome can be adequately gauged.
Fifteen years ago, when I was twenty one years old, my critical thinking skills went on autopilot during a life changing situation. I was in a robbery. My friends and I were on our way to the beach when we decided to stop for a taco. Little did we know, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. After we sat down with our food in the far corner of the restaurant, we heard a commotion (tons of shouting). I turned around, since my back was to the door and the register, so that I could see what was happening. In a glimpse I saw three men entering the restaurant with red bandanas covering their noses and mouths wielding guns! The guns were pointed up in the air just like in the movies... That's all I saw.
This is where critical thinking comes into play. I could have jumped up or started sobbing and drawn attention to myself. Instead my friends and I pretended it wasn't happening, even though we could hear the shouting and the anger in their voices. One of the men was screaming for the money and the cashier was screaming back there wasn't any because it was in the safe and she couldn't open it.
I could not control the situation but I could control my choices. While sitting there, I started to worry about my wallet. What if they came around and robbed us? What if he got my address and the keys to my house? What if this and what if that. I very cautiously removed my driver's license from my wallet. I just did not want them to know where I lived. I also was looking inconspicuously at the windows and the tables that surrounded us us planning an exit route or safe place if they started shooting. Luckily, they left without any of those terrible outcomes happening.
If one did, then I would have to rely on my thinking skills to survive. Critical thinking skills are necessary in life and should be taught as such.. They are not just another reading skill.
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